Growing up in Canada, there is a lot of cultural identity. Most of these cultures are European because most Canadians are of European descent. Canada has developed somewhat of a cultural identity itself but at the same time there is no such thing as a Canadian last name. The same is true for America.
Canadians can have English, French, Italian, Ukrainian, Portuguese, Jewish or any other kind of last name. As you can probably tell, my last name is German. My family emigrated from Germany to Russia in the 1700’s and stayed there until the early 1900’s. Eventually, they came to settle in Western Canada. My maternal ancestry is mostly Ukrainian with a bit of Polish mixed in for good measure. That’s quite the mix. If someone were to ask me what my cultural background was, I would simply say Eastern European.
I grew up speaking English, though I understand some Russian and German and being from Canada, I went to a French school. Three out of my four grandparents were born in Canada and the only grandparent who wasn’t, arrived here when she was two. What I’m trying to point out is that there is not a lot of cultural influence on me from my ancestry. While I appreciate those cultures, they play a minimal role in my life. Many Canadians are also this way.
My Canadian identity is primarily geographical. It doesn’t play a role in my life either save for the fact that I live, pay taxes and vote here. I could just as easily be an American and it wouldn’t make a difference in the slightest. I’ll never deny that I’m Canadian but at the same time it is not where my eternal citizenship lies. As a Catholic, my citizenship is in heaven and if I’m faithful to God’s promises, I will be there one day.
To a certain extent, I’m glad that my cultural background has not played a huge role in my life because then my religion maybe would have been tied in with my cultural identity. At Church I see many people from traditional Catholic cultures and families whether they be Italian, French, Croatian, Irish, etc. I’m not saying that these cultures aren’t beautiful or that religion is diminished because of them, but having a strong cultural influence may give the message that one goes to a Catholic Church because that’s what Italians, French, or Poles do. This is only a small obstacle to fully realizing the Catholic faith but it may hinder one never the less.
As a Canadian of Eastern European background, I must confess that it matters little to me. My eternal citizenship is not in Canada, Poland, or Russia but in Heaven with God. Two passages in scripture make this abundantly clear.
The first is when Christ gives the Great Commission to his disciples. He says:
“Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.”
- Matthew 28:19-20
The last verse comes from St. Paul where he states:
“There is neither Jew nor Greek: there is neither bond nor free: there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
- Galatians 3:28